Baseball’s longest game celebrates its 42nd anniversary this week. A game that no one really remembers, but it features plenty of names who became Baseball Hall of Famers. Plus, a Phillies great marches his way to the history books. One of baseball’s longest-serving managers made his debut as a 26-year-old. In the third installment of our new weekly series, here’s a look at notable events in baseball history from April 17.
This Week In Baseball History: April 17
Schmidt Slugs His Way Into History
On April 17, 1976, Philadelphia Phillies‘ third baseman Mike Schmidt hit four consecutive home runs against the Chicago Cubs. The game featured nine home runs, with four coming from the 26-year-old Phillies slugger. Hitting just .167 entering the game, Schmidt became the 10th player in MLB history to have four homers in a single game. Two blasts came against a pair of brothers on the Cubs, the game’s starter Rick Reuschel and reliever Paul Reuschel. The 1976 season was Schmidt’s third consecutive 30-home-run campaign. He would lead the majors in home runs and total bases in ’76, finishing third in MVP voting.
McGraw Manages His First Game
April 18, 1899, saw the managerial debut of 26-year-old John McGraw. McGraw was named the clubs’ manager after the Orioles owners moved a lot of players and management to their other baseball enterprise, the Brooklyn Dodgers. McGraw’s first game as manager was a 5-3 win over the New York Giants. His time as the skipper for the Giants earned him the reputation as one of the most outstanding leaders in baseball history. From 1902 to 1932, McGraw’s Giants had a winning percentage of .591, won the NL pennant ten times, and were World Series champs three times. His 2,763 wins in the MLB rank third all-time behind only Connie Mack and Tony La Russa. His 31 seasons managed are a National League record.
Baseball’s Longest Marathon
April 19, 1981, marks the longest game in baseball history. The Rochester Red Wings and Pawtucket Red Sox of the International League went into extra innings with the score at 1-1. It was in the 21st inning that both teams scored again to continue the tie ballgame at two runs a piece. However, the contest continued until 4:07 am when the league finally decided after 32 innings that the game must be postponed. As for Rochester’s Dave Huppert, he was the catcher for 31 innings before being replaced.
Meanwhile, Jim Umbarger pitched ten scoreless innings starting in the 23rd inning. The International League chose June 23 to finalize this baseball marathon, and in the 32nd inning, Pawtucket pulled ahead to win 3-2. The game lasted eight hours and 25 minutes, with 60 strikeouts. Cal Ripken Jr.had two hits in 13 plate appearances for Rochester. Pawtucket’s Wade Boggs totaled four hits and an RBI in 12 at-bats. Luckily, this test of endurance always encouraged these future stars to chase their baseball dreams.
Fernando Valenzuela tossed his third shutout in four career starts on April 22, 1981. The rookie lefthander helped his cause, driving in the game’s only run in a 1-0 victory over Houston. Valenzuela didn’t just start 1981 by tossing three shutouts in four starts. He completed each of those four starts, allowing only one run on his “off night.” 36 innings, one earned run, 36 strikeouts, and a 4-0 record to start the year. The fantastic start to Valenzuela’s rookie season didn’t stop there. But more importantly, Dodger nation fell in love with “Fernandomania” his historic dominance continued.